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Letter: A Response To Mike Barry’s Column

I must take exception to Mike Barry’s recent column trumpeting the County Office of Legislative Budget Review’s  (OLBR)’s “verdict” that the County Comptroller’s office sought and received adequate backup for payments to Super Storm Sandy contractors. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The OLBR report clearly stated that their review was limited in scope and not meant as endorsement or criticism of the FEMA funding and approval process in totality (pg. 3). In fact, payments to the largest vendor, Looks Great Services, which totaled over $34 million, were approved for payment based upon an Excel spreadsheet without adequate documentation (pg. 5).

Mr. Barry’s column also failed to mention that the actions of the Comptroller’s office with respect to contracts and payments for Superstorm Sandy work are currently being investigated by the Nassau County District Attorney and the New York State Attorney General.

As the former Nassau County Comptroller, I am appalled about the current scandal surrounding contracts and unauthorized payments to companies for Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene debris removal. Comptroller George Maragos should appear before the county legislature to discuss payments that Nassau County has made to various contractors and disclose all records associated with the various contracts.

 It is one of the core responsibilities of the County Comptroller to serve as financial watchdog safeguarding taxpayer dollars, including providing oversight on county contracts.  If the appropriate oversight occurred and proper procedures were followed, there is no reason why Mr. Maragos should avoid making records publicly available and answer questions before the legislature.  

Howard Weitzman

Editor’s note: Howard Weitzman is expected to run for Nassau County Comptroller on the Democratic line in this year’s election.